Mirra, Doran Optimistic About Charlotte Partnership
Perhaps the biggest news out of the Global Rallycross paddock over the past month was Dave Mirra’s sudden departure from the Subaru PUMA Rallycross Team. Mirra, a 24-time X Games medalist, made the decision to step away from the only team and manufacturer he’d ever known, but confirmed he would race in Sunday’s event at The Dirt Track at Charlotte—substituting for Liam Doran in the LD Motorsports/Prodrive Mini Countryman.
“I’m really excited to drive something different,” Mirra explained. “I’ve only ever driven a Subaru built by Vermont SportsCar, so for me to have this opportunity it’s like I’m dating a new girl!”
Doran, who won X Games gold in Munich in the Mini’s maiden race, had to step away due to other commitments in Europe. But with an eye for his team to compete on two different continents this weekend, Doran struck a deal with Mirra to keep the Mini on track.
“It’ll be really great to see how the car fares against every other car in the series with another driver,” he said. “If Dave gets a good result as well, it means for sure that the car’s a strong, competitive car. It’ll also be good to get some feedback from him, to see what his positive and negative thoughts on the car are, and where there’s room for improvement moving forward.
“What I do notice about that car,” observed Mirra, “and I guess it’s more from the European X Games events, is that anything technical, tricky, on gravel, that car seemed like it was just unbelievable. It’s very nimble, very responsive, and it looked like Liam was having a very easy time navigating through the tricky sections. So I hear about the course being a majority of dirt, and I’ve always kind of done well in the dirt sections. I’m assuming it’s going to be a little tight and tricky in the dirt oval, with the course and what they’re going to do with it, so I’m anticipating a tighter course and this is the perfect car for it.”
“(The car) has been getting better every single race,” Doran added. “The setup that Dave’s driving this weekend is the same setup that I used at X Games. It’s been getting better every event, but it’s not so much development as it is us learning about the car, where its strengths are, and focusing on using them to try and compete with everyone else.
“The Mini’s chassis and grip are better than every single car in the series, so I would say it’s got an advantage there for sure. In terms of drivability, it’s easy to drive, so on technical courses it’s very easy to learn the course, very easy to find the fastest way around, and the chassis is very forgiving. So that’s where I would say the advantage is going to be.
“We know there’s room for improvement, but the car has proven to be very competitive. It’s gotten better and better, and hopefully Dave is happy with what he can do.”
With that all in mind, Mirra won’t be coming into Sunday’s race with anywhere near as much testing as Doran did in the car before debuting it.
“Charlotte will be the first time I drive the car,” he noted. “I’m heading up (on Wednesday), going to get all fitted in, and then I know we’re going to have a pretty good test on Thursday on the actual track. I’m excited to be able to test a brand new car, see the differences—I have no idea (how it drives)—and to be on the actual course. So it’s going to be a plus-plus situation for sure.”
Doran, for his part, isn’t concerned about the adjustment period. “I’ve seen him drive before, and he was comparable to (former teammate Sverre) Isachsen, who is someone I’ve raced against for a long time,” he said. “He’s a very, very good driver, and Dave wasn’t far off from him, and sometimes was in front of him. I remember at Bristol, before X Games this year, Dave set the fastest lap time among all of us in the Subaru.
“I’m sure he’s capable, we’re certain of that, it’s just seeing how he’ll get on in my car. I think he’ll do pretty well. I wouldn’t say I’ve got expectations, but I’m confident he’ll get results.”
As for Mirra, he remains keen on building upon the results of his final race at Subaru, which saw him earn a GRC career-best fourth place finish.
“(With) the pace I had in Atlanta, building on that pace and jumping into the Mini, I expect myself to be very, very close to the front. But we’ll see. I’d be very disappointed if I wasn’t. I know that I’ve had some speed, and I know I can keep the pace when everything’s working in the cockpit. I’m only assuming this car will be dialed, and with a tight course, and with the underpowered Mini—I’m not sure if it’s really underpowered—it seems like Liam has had a lot of success on the gravel sections of the course, or if it’s raining. If it’s any situation where traction’s an issue, he seems to be very fast in those sections.
“I’m excited. I don’t know what to expect, but I have some pretty big expectations, and I know I’m going to the right car.”
Photo credit: Alison Padron (1, 3); QBA/QNIGAN.com (2); Patrick Savage (4)